NTSB Identification: SEA97LA059.
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Accident occurred Thursday, February 06, 1997 in MADRAS, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/14/1997
Aircraft: Cessna 172N, registration: N5618J
Injuries: 2 Serious,1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot had been en route in visual meteorological conditions, but came to a point where it appeared low-level clouds stretched many miles ahead toward his destination. He therefore elected to attempt to fly underneath the overcast through the mountainous/hilly terrain that was between his location and his destination. While flying through a narrow canyon under the lowering ceiling, he encountered an area of fog and low clouds, and therefore elected to reverse course. During the reversal, the pilot inadvertently entered instrument meteorological conditions, and immediately initiated a climb. While attempting to climb out of the conditions, he saw an area of terrain that he thought he should try to crash land on. As he maneuvered to execute the crash landing, the aircraft impacted a tree, and the left wing separated from the fuselage.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's inadvertent visual flight rules (VFR) flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Factors include the pilot's improper decision to fly under a low ceiling while in mountainous/hilly terrain, and his encounter with fog and low clouds while maneuvering in a narrow canyon.

Full narrative available

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